We can complain about our lack of time, the influence of television, and Safe Schools, but the ultimate responsibility to establish family culture falls on you as the parent. Nobody else is responsible. This is a great privilege and also a duty.
To achieve this, three things are essential. First, mum and dad need to be completely on the same page so they need time to talk every day.
Second, parents and children need to be on the same page. Certainly every child needs one on one time weekly with each parent weekly in a trusting and relaxed conversation, but also consider the value of a weekly family meeting to agree on expectations and timetable… there is an art form to bringing children up while instilling a spirit of ownership and freedom.
The most effective parents help each other: ‘You’re not looking at him’ Jeff’s wife points out to him if he talks or listens to his son without giving full attention. Another dad says, ‘I believe the biggest trap parents fall into is talking over the top of children.’
'I believe the biggest trap parents fall into is talking over the top of children.'One father's observation
Finally, mum and dad need to stand up to rogue influences on their children. No neighbour nor magazine nor video game has the right to impart values in your child that you are not comfortable with. The growing uneasiness with Safe Schools is witnessing the phenomenon of warrior mums who proclaim, ‘Nobody comes between a mother and her child’, no politician, no academic, and no teacher!
- Is maintaining family culture a primary focus in our lives? Do we try to ensure that we create a peaceful and joyful home by the habitual cheerful and positive mood with which we carry ourselves?
- Do we talk daily about our children in a positive way?
- When something goes wrong, as it inevitably can, do I stay calm and constructive? Do I break problems down into practical solutions? Do I think the best of others? Do I give them a chance, and encouragement, to do better next time?
- Do we hold constructive family meetings? These guidelines from Thomas Lickona can be very useful: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/raising-kind-kids/201802/how-have-good-family-meeting-10-steps?amp=
Weekly without fail
‘When my oldest was in Year 7 (about 13 years of age), I needed to correct him about some behaviour that was creeping in. When I spoke to him, I was very proud of him as he had tears in his eyes. I thought to myself, ‘What a good heart he has!’ But after a week the behaviour started to come back, and I thought to myself, ‘This is not my son’s fault. He has a good heart. This is my fault. I must give him more support.’ From that moment I have tried to talk weekly with each of my boys, helping them have a goal for the week ahead.
Communication best practice
The reality is that there is a very wide range of abilities amongst parents to connect with their children. The American Psychological Association offers a common-sense-brimming help sheet for parents. It contains gems like these:
• Initiate conversations by sharing what you have been thinking about rather than beginning a conversation with a question. • Realize your children may test you by telling you a small part of what is bothering them. Listen carefully to what they say, encourage them to talk and they may share the rest of the story. • Resist arguing about who is right. Instead say, "I know you disagree with me, but this is what I think." Read more: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/communication-parents.aspx